Tuesday, January 06, 2009

smart cars -- ecological from start to finish

Smart fortwo continues to exceed expectations in the US. From the Oakland Press:

In tough economy, smart USA exceeds sales goals
In a very tough year for carmakers, Bloomfield Hills-based smart USA exceeded its sales targets. For December, smart USA, which is a partnership between Daimler AG and Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, recorded 2,341 sales. With year-to-date sales for 2008 at 24,622 units, smart USA surged past its sales objectives in its first year of business in the U.S. market. The total sales exceeded smart USA’s original projection of 20,000 units during what proved to be the auto industry’s worst year since 1992.

Daimler officials also said the smart for-two offers a combination of outstanding fuel efficiency, innovative safety features, environmental friendliness and excellent value.... There are currently 74 smart centers open in 35 states. Daimler also plans to show off an all-electric version of the smart car during the North American International Auto Show next week in Detroit.
For me, one of the main attractions of the smart fortwo is that from start to finish, the designers of this car made decisions in a thoughtful ecologically responsible way. The factory (nicknamed "Smartville" is in Hambach, France. In the book Smart -- small car, big deal (by Jurgen Zollter and Willi Diez, Motorbooks 2008), I found a description of the environmental planning that went into the development of the smart car facility:
All phases of the product life cycle, beginning with development of indivdiual smart comonents, through building the factory park in Hambach, to the product utilization and recycling phases, were and remian intergrated within a strict ecological concpet. The factory park in Hambah realized an unmatched moddel of ecological responsibility. All building are free of formaldehyde and hydrocarbons. The facades are clad in Trespa, a raw material derived largely from easily replensished European wood. Distinction is even made between drainage from gutterrs, and that from roads and parking lots, roof drainage is used in storage ponds for firegighting use. All other surface wateris directed through oil separators, treated in storage basins, and then re-utilized.
There's more!
A central biological water treatment plant, reflecting the highest state of the art, treats all sanitation and industrial waste water. The plant uses biological membranes and the Biosep process, a highly flexible recycling system first employed in France. The cleaned, treated waste water is used to irrigate the landscaped grounds, and for colling purposes in the production process.
Additionally, the factory's paint shop uses powder painting which means that no solvents are emitted, and no hazardous waste. The quality of the coating is very high and at the same time the process is entirely free of lead and and cadmium. Excess powder is captured and re-used.

More on Smartville's ecological manufacturing process tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's a video of smart cars on the assembly line.

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